2015 Champions: Oak Cliff Pelicans
2016 Champions: Dallas Nationals
2017 Champions: ?????The American League Division has seen some serious growth not only in the number of teams but in amount of quality in the past few years.
The New Guys
Texas Renegades: This is an offshoot of the A’s who we were able to scrimmage against this past weekend. They definitely have a few bats who can swing it, but the issue might be their pitching and having enough of it. We all know this is a major problem in any league but having enough arms to make it through the dog days of summer is rough. We’ve been there. We played a 9 inning scrimmage and they said they were running out of arms already. Maybe they were missing a few guys? Good group of guys and we actually get to face them next week so we’re looking forward to that.
Dallas Spirits: This group was in the upper echelon of the 35+ group along with Chris Cec and his Modoc crew. It seems they’d like to try their hand at a higher level of competition and I’m happy to see them come down. They clearly know how to play and should be a fundamentally sound team, as much as you can be at our age. I’ve heard from others in the league that they’ll be a tough out come playoff time.
Last Years New Guys
Dallas Pirates: They had a bit of a tough year last year but the first year in the division usually isn’t very pretty when you’re starting from scratch. The O’s were that team back in 2012 when we went 3-18, which is what the Pirates did last year I believe. I believe that they’ll be better this season after a learning year last year and should make some strides towards moving up in the division.
Athletics: This was another group who had a bit of a tough time last year learning the league, though they seemed to improve later on in the year. They did have a tie against the O’s and a win against the Oak Cliff Pelicans so there is definitely some talent in there. They’ll be another team to watch this year as they try to move up the standings.
The Old Guard
Braves: This squad has been around for the past few years and has been one of those teams that can sneak up on you if you’re not careful. The O’s swept them last year behind the strength of former Brave McEasy who tallied 20K’s in 12 innings pitched. Could they be a surprise team this year and move up to compete for home field advantage in the 1st round? Do they have enough pitching to make that move? We’ll find out soon enough.
Indians: One of the few teams actually older than the Orioles themselves, Vincent and his Indians have been a solid member of the American League for as long as I can remember. Always ready for a laugh, Vincent is one of the best guys in this league and if you don’t know him, you should. They’ve kept the basic same core together for a while now as well and just beware if you let PeeWee get a hold of one. Let’s just say it won’t come down anytime soon. Dustin should be back as well and I look forward to him starting Opening Day against us. Always fun to go against him. Look for this team to surprise a few people and fight for home field advantage in the 1st round.
Old Fashioneds: Mark Shonka and his ‘Neds joined the league a couple seasons ago. They started pretty roughly as most new teams do but they’ve steadily moved their way up the ladder, finishing 4th in the regular season and 3rd in the playoffs, defeating the O’s in the 2nd round in a entertaining back and forth game. It looks like they’ll return their top two pitchers in McKinney and Shonka himself but do they have enough relief to cover those late innings? They definitely have the pieces to be a top tier team and should be fun to play them again a
s we have some revenge on our minds. Shonka, I’m going to make this plea very public. Throw Boston a fastball just once this year. Just once!
Oak Cliff Pelicans: Patty and his Pelicans came onto the season a couple years ago and made an immediate impact, taking out the Orioles in the 2nd round before moving on to win it all. They’re a great group of guys who can definitely play and have become one of my favorites to play against. They’ve got all the pieces you need and will be a force to reckon with this year. I’m also glad to see Langley didn’t retire after all. You’re going nowhere Randy! This team will be in the hunt come playoff time and not one to ever sleep on.
Tube Soxs: First off, what kind of name is that? Tube Sox? Horrible. Moving past that, the Tube Soxs aka Nationals are last year’s champions and the team to beat at the moment. While the O’s took them down 2 of 3 last year, we never got to faceoff in the playoffs which is when you need to win. This group was the original rival to the Orioles, way back in 2013 as the Sky Sox and have been our favorite to play year in and year out. They’v
e got talent all over with Scates, Reid, Austin, Gary, Karl, Kam, and they’ve added an old O’s nemesis to the mix in Wyatt “Holliblaze” Holiday of old Marlins fame. Don’t think I didn’t see that addition, Karl! For those who don’t know, Holliblaze was a top 3 pitcher in the league for a couple of seasons before the Marlins disbanded. Let’s just say that Chong will be ready to talk smack to the Pelicans all over Facebook again if Wyatt still has his stuff.
Orioles: Oh, don’t think I can’t write about my own team in this league write-up. The O’s have been a great regular season team the past four years, being either the 1 or 2 seed every year going into the playoffs.
Even though they owned a 16-3-1 record last year and held head to head advantages over every team in the league, they’ve run into a couple teams at the wrong time in the playoffs the past couple of years. Manager Tony Cass and the O’s are hungry to climb back to the top of the mountain and look forward to another solid year at the top of the league. Adding some new blood and return to health for some veterans should help the squad reclaim the title of American League Champions.
I don’t know about you but I’m ready for Sunday!
Next Game: 3/26, Home vs Indians
Lake Highlands HS, 1:00 PM
SP: Timmy “The Cannon” Hanan